City drops taxpayer-funded Internet plan for private provider

One of the loudest advocates for municipal broadband in Minnesota has announced a surprise deal with a private provider involving no government financial support.

Just weeks ago, a legislative deal crafted by taxpayer-funded lobbyists for $2 million in state telecom grant funds for a government-owned fiber optic network fell through, and the city of Annandale appeared stuck with a system chronically criticized for outages and sluggish speeds.

“When your citizens and residents are screaming for help and better service, and the private sector is unable or unwilling to provide a solution, then that’s when government has to step in. So we did,” said Mayor Dwight Gunnarson.

Then, virtually out of cyberspace, Mid-Continent Communications unveiled plans to install a broadband cable network in the city of 3,300, advertising, some of the fastest speeds in the country by 2017.

“Is it our ultimate network that we wanted? No. Is it very, very close? I would say, yeah. Is it going to do what our residents and businesses need here for the near future? Yes, so it was a pretty easy decision,” Gunnarson said.

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About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry’s first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

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